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White rhinos return to Mozambique park after 40 years – Science-Environment News – Report by AFR

A Mozambique park welcomed its first white rhinos in 40 years on Friday after 19 of the endangered animals made a 1,000-mile truck journey from South Africa, conservationists said.

The rhinos have been reintroduced to Zinave National Park in southern Mozambique as part of an initiative to restore wildlife and boost the local economy.

Wildlife in the 4,000-square-kilometer sanctuary was decimated by Mozambique’s decades-long civil war, which ended in 1992, and by poaching.

“The return of the rhino allows for the launch of Zinave as a new and exciting tourism destination in Mozambique,” said Werner Myburgh, head of the Peace Parks Foundation (PPF), the conservation group that led the project.

Zinave is now the only national park in Mozambique to host all of the “Big Five” African wildlife — elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo — Myburgh said in a statement.

Since 2015, 2,400 animals from 14 species have been released into the reserve.

The rhinos were transported from neighboring South Africa to Zinave over several days in June in what the PPF said was the longest transport of rhinos by road.

On Friday, some of the animals were released from their enclosures into a sanctuary that had added security measures in place to protect them from poachers.

President Filipe Nyusi and Environment Minister Ivete Maibaze attended the ceremony.

“Protecting biodiversity is a universal imperative and together we will continue to fight to preserve our natural heritage,” Nyusi said.

“Only then can future generations enjoy the benefits of nature and join our mission to conserve our natural resources.”

The white rhino is listed as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), while its cousin, the African black rhino, is listed as critically endangered.

The PPF said it plans to more than double the park’s rhino population over the next three years and add more of both species.

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